Saturday, July 18, 2009

A book to revisit

In 1973 British economist EF Schmacher's book Small is Beautiful: A study of economics as if people mattered was published. It challenged conventional thinking of both communist and capitalist worlds that economic growth should be the sole object of life and that "bigger is better". Despite the ideological tussle between east and west in those years, government in the west, including in NZ, had steadily grown bigger, more bureaucratic and strangling following WWII.
This changed at the beginning of the 1980s with the adoption of Thatcherism, Reaganomics, and in NZ, Rogernomics, which held that big government was bad for you, but unfettered big business was good for you. Today the world is only too painfully aware that big business isn't good for you either. Globalisation can provide economies of scale, but big business bosses are invariably corrupted by power (whose famous quote about all power corrupting is it?) and greed and expediency takes over -- examples in America: Enron, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Walmart, etc; in NZ: the Australian owned banks, Telecom, etc.
There is too much valuable philosophy in this book to be able to do it justice in a sound bite, but do yourself a favour and give it a read.

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